Brief History of Summerhill House

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The land on which the house stands was once part of West common held by the Manor of Ditchling.  Enclosure created a couple of fields and a dwelling was built, which can be clearly seen on surveyors draft dated 1794 for the first Ordnance Survey map.  One of the fields was named the ‘Golden Nob’ in the Tithe Survey of 1848.  the owner is listed as Francis Blaker with the annotation ‘now Charles Catt’. – circa 1848/50

The 1852 census describes the area as ‘Golden Nob’ and lists four families numbering 19 persons in residence.  In the next few years it would appear that Charles Catt acquired more land in the area and was responsible for building Summerhill House in the late 1850s perhaps 1860.  It is shown on Ordnance Survey maps that were produced following surveys conducted in the 1870.  The Catt family lived in the house and farmed the surrounding land for many years.

In the 1920’s, Mr and Mrs Donald Fraser owned the property, a man well known in the area.  It was then sold to the Col. Eggar-Byatt, the Diocesan solicitor for the Church of England.  He was a widower and lived in the house with his son and daughter, Neil and Elizabeth, together with his two maiden sisters.

Following the commencement of WWII, his children joined the forces.  Life became difficult with the need to travel to Chichester to undertake his diocesan duties, so he moved with his sisters to that city.

It was at this point that Summerhill House was first used as a school.  Hollingbury Court Preparatory School was evacuated there early in Word War II, probably in the summer of 1940 when the invasion threat was greatest.  It is understood their stay was fairly brief and the school returned to Brighton when the situation improved.

In 1945, Mr Cross leased, the property from the Eggars, as the home for Summerhill Court School and the property remained as a school until 2015.  The building was demolished in 2018.

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